Last week I wrote about provision and the obvious reminder being played over the loudspeakers at the JCP for the last year and a half. (In case you missed it, check it out here.) Today, I’m going to expand on that.
In Exodus 16, God lays out his play for providing for His wilderness-wandering children. Every day, there’s gonna be this bread-ish stuff called manna on the ground. Gather what you and your family needs and ONLY what you need for one day. (Except for the sixth day… #BecauseSabbath). Don’t take more than you need because God has got this under control. You don’t need to plan ahead for what you’ll eat tomorrow. But, if you know anything about the Israelites, you know that they weren’t so great at listening and following directions… (not that I have room to talk, but we’ll get to that later.) So… they tried to keep some “just in case” and here’s what happened:
Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. – Exodus 16:20 ESV
The exception was that on the sixth day, they could gather for TWO days because of the Sabbath. In order to properly observe the day of rest, they could not even gather food for the day. And, even though any other day they kept back extra it spoiled, on that day, it did not.
So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. ” – Exodus 16:24
Reading this passage about manna reminded me a lot of God’s provision in my life. I have gone from a predictable, consistent paycheck from a full time job to working two jobs, one of which has hours that are constantly in flux. While my AmeriCorps position provides consistent income, it constitutes less than half of what I need to pay my bills, pay for gas for the car, coffee, and continue eating food outside of what I scavenge from my parents. There have been months where I have just made that cut-off and there have been a few months with a little more breathing room. But never, in over a year and a half have I been unable to pay my bills.
But it’s more than just provision. My hours are my “manna.” The schedule comes out on Thursdays and I look to see what I have for the following week. I add it to the spreadsheet that I keep that includes how many hours I need to meet the basic budget. Sometimes, in January and February which are slower months, I panic when I see the schedule. Even though I know that it will all be ok. Because I worry that the next week might have even fewer, I take any hours offered when someone calls off, which is God’s provision for those lean months. Unfortunately, that mentality often carries over once hours pick up and I’m getting more than I absolutely need to begin with.
And that’s when things start to get wormy and rotten. See, I have one day off a week from both jobs. It’s Sunday. I often tell people when they ask if I’m working on Sunday that it’s because “Sundays are for the LORD.” And that’s true. I do things at church on Sundays. But Sundays, like the Sabbath, are more for ME than they are for God. They’re a day for me to rest, recharge, and connect with God through church and small group. Sometimes, hours I’m offered are on Sundays. I, for the most part, do not take them, unless group is canceled or I don’t have to work the following day at school (or JCP).
Sometimes, when I’m feeling greedy or like hoarding the manna, I pick up shifts for no good reason, including Sundays. And it almost always backfires. For example, a few weeks ago, someone was giving away a Sunday afternoon shift. I had no plans in particular that day but I still had church and group. I took it anyway, knowing it would mean a busy day and that it would mean 13 consecutive days of work between both jobs. And, knowing that I had my quota of hours for the month already in 3 weeks in. See, greedy hoarder. Well, that week I ended up with a double ear infection. I couldn’t hear out of either ear for a day and one ear for over a week. Yep, I had to call in sick, something I’ve only done twice in the entirety of my employment, canceling out the “extra” hours I picked up.
After that week, I’ve tried to be more mindful of what I need versus what I think I need. It has helped that nobody has called off for hours I could pick up lately but still.
What’s your manna? What are you hoarding just in case? Is it money? Is it time? Is it your talent or an ability? What are you sacrificing in order to gather extra and make sure you have more than enough? Maybe you’re not hoarding anything but you’re having a tough time trusting that the manna will be there waiting in the morning. How can this passage in Exodus help you trust Him more?